The Role of Inventory Visibility in the Customer Experience


The Role of Inventory Visibility in the Customer Experience

By Paula Bernier, Executive Editor, TMC  |  December 11, 2014

A recent report by Capgemini (News - Alert) Consulting titled “Are You Ready? How to Create an Always-On, Always-Open Shopping Experience” lays out what the firm considers four critical components required for a successful omnichannel strategy. Those four components include inventory visibility, web-ready products, predictive customer analytics, and a fulfillment strategy.

Mobiles sales assistant applications address the inventory visibility component, and can elevate the customer experience by allowing sales associates and customers to check the availability of various goods and services with any NFC-enabled mobile phone or other wireless device at the point of sale. Oracle (News - Alert) is among the companies providing mobile sales assistant solutions; in the case of Oracle Mobile Sales Assistant, it’s offered as a CRM application.

These kinds of solutions basically work like this: The organization using them affixes NFC tags to products or shelves in the warehouse to identify those items by electronic product code. And they interface that with an organization’s ERP system, to keep both business and consumer abreast of what’s available and where.

NFC, by the way, stands for near field communications. It is a key technology that is also being used to enable digital wallets. This technology got a major shot in the arm recently when Apple (News - Alert) announced it is using NFC in the iPhone 6 to enable Apple Pay.

But RFID can also be used to enable improved inventory visibility.

A Sept. 17 article in The Wall Street Journal discussed how clothing retailer Zara is rolling out RFID throughout its operations. The same article, however, also notes how early RFID efforts by J.C. Penney and Wal-Mart Stores didn’t pan out as planned due to interference.

It should be noted that while some view NFC and RFID as competitors, the two technologies can be used in tandem.

Edited by Maurice Nagle
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